Chapter 14
The 601 A.D. charter regarding
Ineswitrin and Glastonbury
Few commentators have broached the subject of Ineswitrin and the
provenance of its name. There is a general acceptance that it is the old
name for Glastonbury. The only reason that scholars do not understand that
this assumption is incorrect…. is because they have not understood
Ineswitrin’s connection and importance to the propaganda which Henry
Blois has interpolated into William of Malmesbury’s GR and DA.
The name of Ineswitrin is found in the GR, DA, and the life of Gildas.
There is no prior instance of the name of Ineswitrin in connection with
Glastonbury in any previous manuscripts prior to the early twelfth century.
In the GR and DA, both (in their unadulterated forms) composed by William
of Malmesbury, the name Ineswitrin appears in connection with a charter
which informs us of the grant of an estate with the name of Ineswitrin to
the ‘old church’ at Glastonbury. Initially, the original DA, before Henry Blois
added his interpolations (which comprise the most part of the first 34
chapters of DA), the manuscript started (at chapter 35) with the opening
chapter evidencing the 601 charter. This was the earliest evidence William
of Malmesbury could find extant at the Abbey when he searched their
In the Life of Gildas, it unequivocally states that Glastonia was of old
called Ynisgutrin. The statement has no validity and therefore indicates that
whoever wrote Life of Gildas has the same agenda as the person wishing to
pass off the charter as applicable to an estate called Ineswitrin located at
The reason that this statement is vital as corroborative evidence, is that
it accords with the name in the charter of the estate of Ineswitrin donated
by a Devonian King to the Old church at Glastonbury. Martin
comments on the point that British monasteries and other
ecclesiastical sites are thought to have provided a foundation for West Saxon
establishments, with the British Celtic communities in some fashion
metamorphosing into West Saxon Roman houses. Grimmer questions the
assumption that I think largely stems from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s
presentation of the early Celtic Church in HRB and there is no certain
record except of some early Celtic saintslives. Yet this point is relevant in
that if Geoffrey of Monmouth is Henry Blois…. how is it that Henry has
envisaged this pre Augustine ecclesiastical Celtic backdrop in which the
Arthurian panoply exists? Henry’s view I believe, is based upon what
documents he came across while abbot of Glastonbury. For the moment, it
is Ineswitrin, the island of Avalon and Avalon’s supposed synonymy with
Glastonbury that bring us to the subject of this 601 charter and its relevance
as to why Henry Blois composed the short tract of the Life of Gildas in the
first place and then added the last paragraph.
In William of Malmesbury's unadulterated De antiquitate Glastonie
ecclesie, the 601 charter begins the whole DA account with grants to
Glastonbury. This logically would be the first place to start i.e. with the
oldest surviving record. William's commission and reason for producing the
De antiquitate Glastonie was to counter a claim made by Osbern of
Canterbury that Glastonbury's foundation only occurred in the mid-tenth
century and St Dunstan was the first abbot of Glastonbury.
This conflict had arisen because Glastonbury monks had claimed that
Dunstan was buried in the Church at Glastonbury and in reality Canterbury
monks knew he was buried at Canterbury. Therefore, Henry employed
William of Malmesbury to produce a tract which, in essence, validated
Glastonbury's antiquity. Part of this proof of antiquity was based upon the
601 charter and the circumstantial evidence it provides. Another relevant
point which was indicated by the date of the charter was that a religious
house at Glastonbury existed before Augustine’s arrival and negates the
Martin Grimmer.The Early History of Glastonbury Abbey: A Hypothesis Regarding the 'British Charter".
commonly held assumption that Augustine (who became the first
Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597) was the "Apostle to the English"
and a founder of the English Church.
Coincidentally, ‘Geoffrey’ expresses the same commonly held belief in
his bogus Prophecies of Merlin Afterward Rome shall bring God back
through the medium of a monk….. The obvious intonation is that Christianity
existed in Britain before it fell away (as Gildas makes plain) and therefore
Augustine could not be founder….and therefore primacy (Henry’s main
concern) should not be awarded to Canterbury.
The 601 A.D. charter in effect was a proof which indicated that even at
that date, the church at Glastonbury was termed ‘old’ and therefore
evidenced a pre-existence of the British (Celtic) church before Augustine’s
arrival. This is entirely obvious through the works of Gildas; but the dispute
was specifically about the antiquity of Glastonbury. The DA, as I have
posited already, was interpolated by Henry Blois himself and this practice
continued after his death in the same book.
So, I will cover the analysis of the exclusively Glastonbury record of DA
(version B) in a later chapter. The DA, which in effect was an instantaneous
cartulary (and treated like one thereafter), is thought to have been
originally written c.1129-34. However, it was interpolated ‘for the first time’
immediately after William’s death in 1143 by Henry Blois.
Since the relevance of Ineswitrin
is only corroborated in the Life of
Gildas which is written by Henry Blois and the DA is grossly interpolated by
him, I will state for the record now, that DA was written prior to 1134.
Henry Blois interpolations into the DA were started post 1143. The main
body of Life of Gildas may well have been composed after the 1134 date of
the presentation of DA to Henry, but the last additional paragraph of Life of
Gildas is probably post 1143 as it ties in with Henry’s agenda for
Metropolitan where it is employed as corroborative evidence to uphold
Henry’s position in presenting Yniswitrin as an estate on Glastonbury.
To construct an initial edifice, an architect is necessary. Once the
building stands and the architect is dead, additions to the edifice can still be
added by subsequent generations. Henry Blois has built his literary edifice
in secret on the back of various authors, one of which was William of
John Scott DA I, pp. 44-45; 5, pp. 52-53; 9, pp. 56-57;88- 89, pp. 140-41;
The DA refers to Henry as brother of Theobald, not the more likely King Stephen.
Malmesbury. The Arthurian legacy and the Grail legends are built upon the
foundations of Henry’s own HRB through a fictitious ‘Geoffrey’.
Why it was necessary for Ineswitrin to be established as the earlier
appellation of Glastonbury is the puzzle I hope to clarify. Certainly the most
ingenious etymology has been used to establish this as a fact. It is entirely
misleading and inaccurate to assume the location of Ineswitrin and the
donation of the Island estate by a Devonian King applies to an estate or
parcel of land existing as part of Glastonbury Island itself.
It is only Henry Blois’ statement in the Life of Gildas which is reiterated
in DA which transforms Ineswitrin into an estate near to Glastonbury. We
are led to believe it is the old name for Glastonbury. In reality the name
applies to an island in Devon and the reason for this purposeful
translocation lies squarely with Henry Blois. The answer lies in the fact that
the Ynis or the ‘Inespart of the name denotes an Island. We know from the
vivid description in the Dunstan author B manuscript, Glastonbury was an
Island c.1000AD.
The 601 charter represents a genuine donation of an island estate to the
Church at Glastonbury on a genuinely extant charter at the time
Malmesbury searched Glastonbury’s records. The 601 charter, drawn up by
a Bishop Mauuron, records a grant to the 'old church' made by a King of
Dumnonia of five ‘cassates at Ineswitrin at the request of Abbot Worgret.
William of Malmesbury supposedly records the donation as follows: On the
estate of Ynswitrin, given to Glastonbury at the time the English were
converted to the faith. In 60I AD the King of Dumnonia granted five cassates
on the estate called lneswitrin to the old church on the petition of Abbot
Worgret. I, Bishop Mauuron wrote this charter. I, Worgret, abbot of that
place, have subscribed. The age of the document prevents us knowing who the
King was, yet it can be presumed that he was British because he referred to
Glastonbury in his own tongue as Yneswitrin which, as we know, was the
British name. But Abbot Worgret, whose name smacks of British barbarism,
was succeeded by Lademund and he by Bregored. The dates of their rule are
obscure but their names and ranks can clearly be seen in a painting to be
found near the altar in the greater church. Berthwald succeeded Bregored.
Grimmer’s suspicions are that the date of the charter is wrong based upon
the term anno Dominae. He dates the charter for other reasons to the 670’s
in line with the establishment of Wessex rather than 601 which was
obviously the date expressed on the charter. Yet to me this ties in perfectly
with the second Saxon incursion into the south west c.590
Yet the paschal tables used by priests to find the date for Easter by their
nature began at the incarnation. Dionysius Exiguus had already invented
this as a dating system c.500 A.D. This charter is the one piece of evidence
upon which Glastonbury stakes its foundation, in a proof that it was
founded prior to Canterbury. Therefore the charter itself would have been
under scrutiny. Although the charter appears only in the later B & C
stemma versions of William of Malmesbury’s GR, it does not follow that it
was not genuine because GR1 was written before William spent time
searching the records at Glastonbury. Many of the other Glastonbury
additions to version C & B of GR will be elucidated in a later chapter
specifically on the GR. The 601 charter plays a large part in unfolding what
transpired regarding Ineswitrin and why its phony etymology was added to
the last paragraph of Life of Gildas by Henry Blois. There is no reason to
doubt the charter and its date is genuine.
William was accustomed to seeing old charters. William (or Henry Blois
interpolating) bears witness to the charter’s antiquity when he updates his
GR3 with other additions he had gleaned in the interim since production of
GR1. Why would someone perpetrating a fraud have a Dumnonian King as
donor? Why choose a place called Ineswitrin which no-one has heard of as
the object of the grant if it were a 12th century invention. If it were really
archaic and it was a genuine charter from the 670’s, why perpetrate the
fraud by applying a date of 601AD which is after Augustine’s arrival.
There can be no reason why a Saxon house which used to be a
‘Briton/Celtic’ church would change a date of donation from a Devonian
King. There was no charter evidence relating to the years between 601 and
670 at Glastonbury, but a picture that William of Malmesbury had seen by
the altar led him to record three names of Abbots in the intervening 70 year
period and relate that they were British. If there were these abbots, why is
Grimmer so insistent that the 601 charter is of later date? If his suspicion of
fraud is purely based on the Anno Dominae term, there is not much
previous charter evidence for comparison upon which to base such a
dismissal of the date on a seemingly flimsy premise. So, let us leave the date
at 601, remembering that this is the very charter to be scrutinized by
detractors at Canterbury (or whoever at Rome later) who presume a case of
Roman primacy in an Augustinian foundation. The reader will understand
as we progress that the charter was also to be produced in evidence at
Rome in Henry’s case for Metropolitan.
The supposition that the charter was manufactured to lend weight to the
claim for Glastonbury's antiquity might be tenable if the Island did not exist
in Devon and did not coincide with the precise position to which Melkin’s
geometrical prophecy locates. Again, if we understand that Henry Blois has
substituted the name of an island called Ineswitrin in Melkin’s prophecy for
his own invented name of Insula Avallonis posited in HRB, all will become
clear by the end of this exposé.
Avallon’s name only (not the rest of the prophecy of Melkin) is fictitious.
Avallon is Henry’s invention based upon the name of a town in the region
of Blois. It would be a remarkable co-incidence that Melkin’s instructions in
the prophecy mark precisely the spot which locates an island in Devon….
when it just so happened also, that a supposedly faked charter is witness to
an Island being donated to Glastonbury by a Devonian King.
The interpretation of the charter is not straightforward because of
Henry Blois’ bogus and misleading etymology in life of Gildas. William at the
time of writing (in his own words) in no way intonates that Ineswitrin is at
Glastonbury. Everything which points to the supposition that Ineswitrin (as
a location) is an estate at or near Glastonbury is an interpolation into DA or
false information supplied by Henry Blois in Life of Gildas or GR updated.
Caradoc’s etymological explanation was then adopted by Gerald of Wales,
The reader will understand in a later chapter once we get to that point….
that Gerald has seen and read DA (for the most part in its current form)
prior to Arthur’s disinterment.
assesses the 601 charter as probably genuine and also sees no
motive for forgery. William obviously believed the charter itself to be
representative of Glastonbury's antiquity and in no way infers in any work
(of his pen) that Ineswitrin is an estate on the Island of Glastonbury.
In his
account in the GR, he makes the observation that Glastonbury must be an
ancient foundation as 'even then (it) was called OldChurch'. William
De principis instructione 1.20 (c.1I93-95), and Speculum Ecclesiae 11.8-10 (c.1216).
Heather Edwards, The Charters of the Early West Saxon Kingdom (Oxford: British
Archaeological Reports 198, 988),p. 65.
William of Malmesbury’s VD ii (written after the body of DA) does not mention Ineswitrin.
portrays that the poor condition of the document caused the King's name to
be illegible. William says: The age of the document prevents us knowing who
the King was. Where it is stated that the writer of the charter is British
because he referred to Glastonbury in his own tongue as Yneswitrin which, as
we know, was the British name… this is an interpolation by Henry Blois
which concurs with what he had written in Life of Gildas.
William knew Ineswitrin was a British name for an island somewhere
but it is Henry Blois’ interpolation which infers the name is synonymous
with Glastonbury. In no other document is it found that Ineswitrin was the
old name for Glastonbury prior to Henry Blois’ interpolations. How could it
be when it applies to an Island in Devon?
William’s statement that the Island of Ineswitrin was given to
Glastonbury at the time the English were converted to the faith is based upon
the commonly held belief that the real faith i.e. Roman, only arrived at the
time of Augustine. This incidentally adds credence to the fact that the 601
date is firmly believed by William. The apparently mistaken date of A.D.
610, which also references the conversion of the English which is found in
the GR C version must be a dyslexic misprint because it states: 'that is, in the
fifth year of the coming of the blessed Augustine'. William is implying that a
church existed at Glastonbury. At the time of the donation, it was already
In reference to the contention with Canterbury, it is being spelled out,
‘Glastonbury already had an old church before the founder of yours
(Canterbury) arrived on English shores’.
William, while living at Glastonbury, would have become very
sympathetic to the views of Glastonbury monks and took on the task to
counteract the rivalry against Canterbury. William’s disgust (as a prodigy
of Roman religion) for anything prior to Augustine’s time is evident in his
reference to Abbot Worgret. Martin Grimmer’s exposé on this 601 charter
is revealing, but he does not understand Henry Blois’ role or reasoning
behind the motive in having the audience of Life of Gildas believe
Ineswitrin was a previous appellation for Glastonbury. Yet even he states
that though: Ineswitrin looks like a British name, it cannot securely be
contended that it was the pre-Saxon name for Glastonbury. The possibility
exists, rather, that Ineswitrin was the name of an estate, as it is in fact called
in the charter, that was later erroneously taken to be the early name for
Glastonbury, perhaps because the actual origin, identification, and location of
the grant was forgotten. This is in part true.
The knowledge of this Island had faded into obscurity, since the charter
was deposited in the scriptorium or chest of old documents which William
was going through. It would have fallen into obscurity as a consequence of
the change from a Briton to a West Saxon house. However, it was not by
accident Ineswitrin was posited as the old name for Glastonbury. The
relevance to this donation is intricately linked to the prophecy of Melkin.
We should discount any notion that Melkin’s prophecy was a late invention
as attested by Carley They are simply quite wrong and have no
evidence to back up this false a priori. It is simply a position taken by
modern scholars on the assumption that Insula Avallonis was a name of the
Island about which Melkin’s prophecy referred. The name on the Melkin
Prophecy originally was Ineswitrin as will be shown in progression.
Henry Blois certainly had no idea of where the island of Ineswitrin was
located, but I will cover later how and where his search for its location was
carried out (in two places). Henry was appraised of the Island of Witrin’s
genuine existence because he knew the charter was genuine. It was Henry
Blois who eventually substituted the name of Ineswitrin for Avalon in the
extant Melkin’s prophecy (recycled by JG) to fit with Henry Blois’ later (post
1158) agenda.
This point becomes self-evident as we progress through the following
chapters. However, Grimmer, attempting to enlighten us on the Ineswitrin
conundrum follows on with: Nor for that matter does Ineswitrin even have
to be an estate which is located within Somerset. This opens up the possibility
of Ineswitrin being situated further west in territory in Devon or Cornwall
still under the control of a British King.
The King of Dumnonia would only be able to grant land within his own
territory, which locates Inis Witrin somewhere in Devon or Cornwall, the
old Dumnonia. There seems to be no obvious reason why the name
Dumnonia would have been interpolated into the charter, especially if the
charter was a fraud and the intent was to provide proof of antiquity for
Glastonbury. Instead it adds credence to the unequivocal position that Ynis
Witrin really was an island location in Dumnonia and someone is trying
(through interpolation) to make us think otherwise.
Grimmer also states that William’s: assertion that the donor was the 'King
of Dumnonia' ('rex Domnonie'), which he presumably made because that was
what he found on the document from which he was working. This is a fairly
explicit statement of the charter's origin. Finally Grimmer concludes: As has
been shown, there is no contemporaneous evidence suggesting that Ineswitrin
was the name for Glastonbury, rather than the name of an estate granted to
Glastonbury. Grimmer has deduced this from evidence supplied by
William’s attestation to what he saw in the charter. Henry Blois’
etymological addition to the last paragraph of the Life of Gildas is added
later to a script (he had already written) so that none could accuse
Glastonbury of having a grant (which proved its antiquity) pertaining to an
unidentifiable location.
The inconsistency of logic is: if Glastonbury was an Island as described
in Dunstan ‘B’, the ‘old church’ and any monastic house attached to it would
be considered as ‘Glastonbury’; so why is Glastonbury, if it is an island,
receiving by donation a part of itself i.e. the ‘island of Witrin’…. on which
the old church is located. Logically, Ineswitrin and the island entity of
Glastonbury and its old Church cannot be one and the same, but must be
separate Islands. It was the synchronicity of both Ineswitrin being an island
and the fact that the ‘old church’ existed on an island which made the
illusion (by which Henry Blois attempts to mislead his audience) all the
more plausible. The purposeful etymological transformation concocted in
the Life of Gildas concerning Ineswitrin was added by Henry Blois to a
manuscript already wholly composed by himself. Thereafter, all and sundry
accepted Ineswitrin as the old name for Glastonbury.
At the end of the Life of Gildas, between an ‘amen’ and a verse colophon
proclaiming the authorship of Caradoc, there is the postscript, stating that:
"Glastonbury was of old called Ynysgutrin and is still called so by native
Britons." It is this ‘postscript’ and the cleverly inserted ‘g’ gutrin (made of
glass) in the etymology which misleads us all to ‘Glass Island’ in further
bogus etymology.
To think Henry Blois is not ‘Geoffrey’, or to think that Henry Blois is not
impersonating Caradoc as the writer of the Life of Gildas would be the same
as denying that Henry Blois is not Master Blihis or Bliho-Bleheris, and
believing what is stated in HRB that Caradoc is a contemporary of
‘Geoffrey’. The facts which connect Henry Blois to Caradoc are on the
archivolt. Gildas’ entirely fictitious connection to Glastonbury found in Life
of Gildas is the common denominator: he could not remain there any longer:
he left the island, embarked on board a small ship, and, in great grief, put in
at Glastonia, at the time when King Melvas was reigning in the summer
country. He was received with much welcome by the abbot of Glastonia, and
taught the brethren and the scattered people, sowing the precious seed of
heavenly doctrine. It was there that he wrote the history of the Kings of
Glastonia, that is, the glassy city, which took its name from glass, is
a city that had its name originally in the British tongue. It was besieged by the
tyrant Arthur with a countless multitude on account of his wife Gwenhwyfar,
whom the aforesaid wicked King had violated and carried off, and brought
there for protection, owing to the asylum afforded by the invulnerable
position due to the fortifications of thickets of reed, river, and marsh.
William of Malmesbury’s ‘British tongue’ epithet in reference to the
charter just alludes to the fact that Inis Witrin is old English, but in no way
establishes the etymological truth between the supposed connection of
‘vitrea’ and the ‘Glass in Glastonbury. This subtle connection which is
similar to some later etymological interpolations, are part of a persuasive
polemic designed to synchronise what initially were contradictory and
conflicting evidences.
The name Glastonbury, from the Anglo-Saxon period exists in charters
from the reigns of the West Saxon King Ine (c.704) where it was termed
‘Glastingaea’ and from Cuthred (c.744) as ‘Glastingei’. There are other early
variations, ‘Glaestingabyrig’ and ‘Glaestingeberig’.
Glastonbury was never at any stage ‘well known’ as Inis Witrin, but had
always been Glastonia, Glaesting, Glaesinbyrig, Glasteigbyrig and never
Ynes gutrin, Insula Vitrea, Isle of Glass, Isle of Apples or the Fortunate Isle,
before Henry Blois came to England. Most emphatically, no one had
previously thought to establish Glastonbury as Avallon, Avalonia, or Insula
Avallonis as this appellation is derived from the name of a town north of
Clugny near to Arthur’s battle scene…. by Henry Blois the composer of HRB.
It is not by coincidence that the composer of the Life of Gildas would have us believe, just like ‘Geoffrey’ (and
Orderic), that Nennius’ Historia Brittonum was written by Gildas.
However, this brings us to the interesting question of ‘cassates’:
peticionem Worgret abbatis in quinque cassatis (superscript: id est hidis) i.e.
Even though William summarises this grant as follows: 'The King of
Dumnonia gave five hides of land known as Yneswitrin' ('rex Domnonie
dedit terram apellatam Yneswitherim v hidas'), the original word ascribed
from the charter is ‘cassatis’.
If we consider first the original nature of the hide, the word ‘hida’ occurs
in the laws of Ine, c. 690. Some have posited that the word is derived from
‘hydan' -English "hut” to a certain measurement of land ‘a hide’, but there is
nothing in the sources of Anglo-Saxon history to support this opinion nor is
it probable that the word "hut" was used as a complimentary part of a
whole estate. Coincidentally, Henry posing as ‘Geoffrey’…. who had
obviously come across this problem while dealing with this 601 charter
(and knowing that Henry Blois is the same person who loves to please in
etymological explanations in HRB)…. he writes: Hengist took a bull's hide,
and wrought the same into a single thong throughout. He then compassed
round with his thong a stony place that he had thought cunningly chosen, and
within the space thus meted out did begin to build the castle that was
afterwards called in British, Kaercorrei, but in Saxon, Thongceaster…
is absolutely no truth in this statement, but it just indicates that Henry can
fabricate on any subject plausibly.
Bede, in his history, always uses the word ‘familia’ where in Anglo-
Saxon we should expect to find hide; and in King Alfred's paraphrase of
Bede the word ‘familia’ is commonly rendered hida, or by one of its allied
forms, hiwisc or hiwscipe. For example Singulae possesiones decern erant
familiarum waes thaes landes hundtwelftig hida; comparata possessione
decern familiarum gebohte tyn hida landes. And Habens terram
familiarum septem millium is thaes landes seofen thusendo hida; donavit
terram octoginta septem familiarum sealde seofon & hundeahtig hida
So, when Bede estimates the extent of Islands, his unit of measurement is
still the family. Thus about the Island of Thanet he says: Tanatos insula non
modica, id est magnitudinis juxta consuetudinem aestimationis familiarum
HRB VI, xi
sexcentarum six hund hida, and of the Isle of Wight he gives, Est antem
mensura ejusdem insulae (juxta aestimationem Anglorum) mille ducentarum
familiarum twelf hund hida.
From these examples, we may gather that in the time of Bede, who died
on Ascension Day 735AD, the value and extent of land was measured, not
by its acreage nor by its material worth, but by the number of families it
could maintain. Later, in England, it became a unit used in assessing land
for liability to "geld", or land tax and the ‘hidelost its original meaning and
became the basis of a tax system of assessment; but this was long after the
Dumnonian charter.
Knowing William of Malmesbury’s resistance to the invention of
material, we should assume that his inability to read the flourit of the
Devonian King
substantiates William was looking at the charter he was
duly copying. If the charter were a fraud, doubtless the name of a King
would have been provided on the charter. The evidence that William is
actually eyeballing the charter is witnessed also by the personal form the
two attesters using the word ‘I’:'I, Mauron the bishop, wrote this charter. I,
Worgret, abbot of the same place, have subscribed it.'
It would seem then it is William’s own interpretation that ‘Hides’
translates from the ‘Cassatesterm used on the document. Cassatis, derived
from cottages i.e. cassa was interchanged with the word hides…. as the
understood measurement in William’s day. Given the fact that both
‘cassates’ and ‘hides’ seem to be measurements of land, maybe the Island of
Ineswitrin had five cottages located on it. I would suggest that the ‘five’
refers to dwellings on the island. This then throws light upon the King
knowing exactly what he is donating. He is giving an Island (Inis) with the
name Witrin with five cottages on itto Glastonbury.
In the next chapter we discuss the actual location of Ineswitrin as Burgh
Island based upon two indisputable facts along with the rationale we have
just covered. Ineswitrin without doubt becomes Melkin’s Island mentioned
in the prophecy where Joseph of Arimathea is buried. Also I can state with
certainty, it was Pytheas’ Island of Ictis. Strangely enough, five cottages on
the Island would be about the right amount for a small fishing community
based there in 601AD.
See note 6
However, the reason that Glastonbury held a grant from a Dumnonian
King and then lost interest in any monetary value that the island may have
provided, would indicate the five families or cottages were just those of a
small community on the island.
The reason the Dumnonian King donated
the Island to Glastonbury is not stated in the charter but the importance of
what the island contained was hidden in the numerical and topographical
puzzle which became known as ‘The Prophecy of Melkin’. This just happens
to appear at Glastonbury also and I shall elucidate in the following pages
that the prophecy of Melkin was extant in the time of Henry Blois.
Over time, and after the Saxon incursion, the connection was lost
between the Island and the ‘old church’ until such time as William of
Malmesbury found the charter in an old chest and Henry Blois produced
the charter to provide evidence of antiquity for the abbey at Glastonbury.
From this proof of antiquity i.e. what was written on the charter…. an
opportunistic advantage was realised. ‘Ynis’ was indisputably understood as
the Dumnonian, Celtic, Briton or pre-Saxon word for ‘Island’.
Unquestionably author B refers to Glastonbury as an Island c.1000 AD…. So,
to confuse Glastonbury with Ineswitrin is not a huge contortion for
someone wishing to propagate such an understanding…. and is easily done
with bogus etymology. The real problem is if the charter was to act as a
proof to the sceptical for the early existence of a church at Glastonbury,
surely someone questioning the charter’s genuineness would be asking:
‘where exactly is the place being donated’. Hence the need for the contrived
etymology in Life of Gildas, as no-one at Glastonbury, five hundred years
after the charter was signed, had any idea of the island’s location which was
being donated.
William’s recognition of Dumnonia as Devon is seen in GR ‘in
Dumnonia, now called Devonshire (Deuenescire)’, and again where he says
'Crediton is a small villa of Dumnonia, which is commonly called
Devonshire'. In Gildas' ‘De excidio Britanniae’, Dumnonia is included as one
of the British Kingdoms and therefore William and Henry and any who
contended the validity of the charter would have no problem accepting the
reality of a King from Dumnonia. The problem was that they would think if
the charter was genuine…. to what location in Devon does it apply? This is
See Image 2
specifically why it was necessary to have corroborative evidence so that the
charter appeared genuine (which it was)….but which stated Ineswitrin was
a part of Glastonbury or even the old name for it and thereby the last
paragraph was inserted in Life of Gildas (and later backed up by the
interpolation of the St Patrick charter in DA).
William’s reference to Worgret's abbacy 'of that place' ('eiusdem loci
abbas'), indicates that, Worgret previously had been an abbot of
Glastonbury. It must have been prior to the abbacy of Haerngils, for whom
at least two charters survive from the 680’s. Haerngils appears at the head
of what appears as an abbatial list for Glastonbury, contained in an
eleventh-century manuscript. This would further suggest Worgret's abbacy
must have been prior to the 680’s and thus adds weight to the date of 601
that William has ascribed to the charter…. as the charter was only recently
discovered in the chest of old papers from which William was gathering
William in the employ of the monks at Glastonbury was commissioned to
write ‘De antiquitate Glastonie’ so as to provide a document which validated
Glastonbury's antiquity. This acted to counter the claim made by Osbern of
Canterbury that Glastonbury's foundation only occurred more recently. The
main discrepancy followed propaganda put out by Glastonbury that St.
Dunstan’s relics resided at Glastonbury as opposed to Canterbury. Dunstan
909 988 was an Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, a Bishop of Worcester, a
Bishop of London, and an Archbishop of Canterbury and later canonized as
a saint. Dunstan’s remains were a valuable relic to possess in terms of alms
and prestige. The DA in part was written to counteract Osbern’s denial of
Glastonbury’s claim. Osbern in his Life of Dunstan had claimed that
Dunstan was the first Abbot of Glastonbury, but the Monks at Glastonbury
thought this to be untrue as evidence existed at the abbey which showed its
monastic history went further back.
Osbern, when he was a little boy at Canterbury remembered that the
Archbishop had removed the coffins of Dunstan and Elfege, in preparation
for building the church. 50 years afterwards he testified to the reality of
that translation of the corpses in order to confute the untrue assertions
made by the monks of Glastonbury. The monks of Glastonbury claimed that
during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, Dunstan's body had
been carried for safety to their abbey. This story was disproved by
Archbishop William Warham, who opened the tomb at Canterbury in 1508.
Supposedly they found Dunstan's relics still to be there. But we shall see
later on in progression that this erroneous rumour put out by Glastonbury
which required a response in the form of Eadmer’s letter was perpetrated
by Henry Blois.
In William’s DA, he gives two references to passages by author ‘Bs Life of
Dunstan’ and in a passage following the statement that Dunstan's father
took him as a boy to visit Glastonbury goes on to describe the place itself:
’There was within the realm of King Athelstan a certain Royal Island known
locally from ancient times as Glastonbury. It spread wide with numerous
inlets, surrounded by lakes full of fish and by rivers suitable for human use
and, what is more important, endowed by God with sacred gift. In that place
at God's command the first neophytes of Catholic law discovered an ancient
church, built by no human skill as though prepared by heaven for the
salvation of mankind. This church was consecrated to Christ and the holy
Mary is mother, as God himself the architect of heaven, demonstrated by
many miracles and wonderful mysteries. To this church they added another
an oratory built of stone which they dedicated to Christ and to St Peter.
Henceforth crowds of the faithful came from all around to worship and
humbly dwelt in that precious place on the island’.
The other relevant passage that William quotes from author ‘B’s Life of
Dunstan’ is ‘that Irish pilgrims as well as other crowds of the faithful had a
great veneration for Glastonbury particularly on account of the blessed
Patrick the younger, who was said most happily to rest in the Lord there.
However, all this evidence apart, we can still know that the Island to which
Melkin refers upon which Joseph of Arimathea is said to be buried was once
known as ‘White Tin Island’ or Ineswitrin (as I shall uncover in
progression). This is Joseph’s connection to the Island that Diodorus
describes from Pytheas’ account which traded tin with the Phoenicians.
Diodorus’ account by its description of Ictis fits Burgh Island and it is the
geometry in the decrypted Melkin’s prophecy which also situates the island
of Avalon precisely where Burgh Island is located.